This section is from the book "The Practical Book Of Interior Decoration", by Harold Donaldson Eberlein, Abbot Mcclure, Edward Stratton Holloway. See also: The Victorian House Book: A Practical Guide to Home Repair and Decoration.
When a new tendency or movement first reaches the attention of the public, and particularly if in some of its manifestations it be rather startling, several attitudes of mind immediately become evident. One temperament shrinks from the unusual, sometimes with repulsion and hard language, while another, with equal lack of examination, runs to embrace it as le dernier cri; still another regards that as everything else with a tolerant smile of amused indifference, while it is reserved for a fourth class to weigh merits and demerits before passing judgment.
As it is to this last group that the readers of this book will doubtless belong, they will probably be glad of a consideration of this comparatively new movement in household decoration which shall be at once sympa-thetic and impartial.
While the newer tendency is derived from the Modernistic Movement abroad, it would be fairer to say that its American manifestation is a reflection of that influence rather than a continuation. The European movement, developed in its turn from the Austrian Secession, a recognised school so long ago as the closing years of the last century, is decidedly iconoclastic and will be referred to later. We do not think that there has been a great deal of this spirit shown in household decoration here, and, with the exception of the work of a few exponents of European origin, what has been done in this direction has probably been by way of interesting experiment. We need hardly look for any outbreak of erratic tendencies, and the conservative need not therefore greatly concern themselvs at the few manifestations of outre decoration which have appeared. There naturally will be some in every movement who go further than others, so that we may expect to find here as elsewhere all shades of opinion and practice, from decided innovation to comparative conservatism.
The movement is the product of a number of clever minds, and there is no organisation for the promulgation of certain principles: the tendency here seems simply a reaction from "Period" furnishing and the supplying of another method of treatment which shall be more in accord with our life today. How well and how fully it does this is the aim of this section to enquire.
If we interpret aright the movement in this country its ideal - and what a fine one it is! - is to teach use, convenience and beauty by way of simplicity and balance on the one hand and fine, frank, cheerful colour on the other. Now there is nothing very "new" about all this - and it is none the worse for that. It is what many of us have "been after" for many days. As the thing which comes nearest to their solution of the problem is Peasant Art (including the British Cottage) this has largely been the inspiration of the new movement. The humorous side of this is that while some at least of the new movers have been scathing in their criticisms of Period Art as unable to embody the spirit of today, Peasant Art is as much Period Art as any other. None of us, however, is entirely logical and we need not stress this, especially as mingled with this older inspiration is the use of anything from any source which will aid in the realising of the object desired.
In itself the use of varying materials is also unobjectionable, providing they can be welded and harmonised into a complete and beautiful whole. It is in the definition of the aim to be realised that we come to our first question.
If the Modern Movement is an effort to realise, and to provide homes in correct relation to, human life today, it is evident that the result will depend upon the conception of what that life is. 12